What better way to prepare for the start of sectional play than have Blitz break it all down for you?
All this week, Outside the Huddle will look at every area sectional in Classes 1A through 4A and preview what is on tap beginning this Friday.
We continue with Class 3A and Sectional 27.
Yes, Blitz is a believer.
Norwell’s navigation of a difficult NE8 season with just a single loss ranks right up there as one of the biggest surprises of 2020.
Will the Knights continue their balanced play in sectionals? Blitz believes so.
Eli Riley at quarterback provides that experienced and calm signal caller that teams crave in pressure situations. The defense has had its hiccups of late but is sound and physical.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Norwell being the favorite is the draw. The Knights will be heavy favorites in the first two round, while the top half of the bracket carries a trio of dangerous teams.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN (4-5)
Yes, we can throw out the record as the Cadets held their own in the SAC all season long. While the defense ranked as one of the best in the conference, the offense sputtered at times, scoring 14 or less points in five of nine contests.
Things won’t be as difficult for Concordia offensively in a 3A field, but there is concern that the unit won’t put up enough points to beat three quality opponents, which the Cadets were presented with via the draw.
OAK HILL (6-3)
Overlook Coach Bud Ozmun’s Golden Eagles at your own risk. Oak Hill’s three losses came to teams that are a combined 26-1 – Eastern, Southwood and Eastbrook.
A mix of veteran experience and raw talent leads the way for Oak Hill, which will want to establish the run while taking some chances vertically.
The Golden Eagles are lurking in this field as a viable threat, and will host Concordia in Round 2 if both advance.
Just two years ago, a winless Braves team entered the postseason, picked up two dubs and gave Bishop Luers a run for its money in the sectional championship.
Can history repeat itself?
Well, to be honest, no. Coach Nick Hall’s team has to go to Oak Hill to start the playoffs, not an easy place to play. There is nowhere to go but up from here for Bellmont in 2021.
Thankfully, the Patriots will be back on the field in competition after being sidelined two weeks due to Covid.
Coach Casey Kolkman has done some serious work in a short time turning around the Patriots, but the draw of Norwell in the first round does not bode well. After all, the Knights beat Heritage 35-7 earlier this season.
While Kolkman’s squad has steadily improved, it is not yet at the level of Norwell.
While the Braves did battle Peru and Tippecanoe Valley tough, four wins in the Three Rivers Conference is a far cry from, say, four wins in the SAC.
While Maconaquah enters the sectional winners of two straight and three of four and includes an impressive victory over Wabash, the Braves just do not have the offensive firepower to keep up with Norwell in the second round.
Congratulations to the Tigers, who picked up their first win of the season last week against Benton Central.
That 20-6 victory was also the first time in 2020 that Northwestern had scored more than seven points.
Blitz foresees a one-and-done situation for the Tigers.
The Tigers are OUT of the postseason due to Covid quarantine.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
MAX RINGGER, SENIOR, NORWELL
Whoever emerges from this sectional as champion will have likely instilled its will in the ground game. Enter Ringger, who leads the Knights in rushing and has put up some eye-popping numbers of late.
Having a trusted back like Ringger behind Eli Riley makes both even more dangerous, as they sometimes tend to feed off of each other’s success.
LOGAN NAHRWOLD-SETTLE, SENIOR, CONCORDIA LUTHERAN
Piggy-backing off of the above, stopping the run involves winning the point of attack along the front line. No one in this sectional field does that better than the D-tackle Nahrwold-Settle.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound monster leads the Cadets in both tackles for loss (nine) and sacks (4.5). Expect the senior to get penetration routinely through the course of the sectional.
KYLE TURANCHICK, SOPHOMORE, OAK HILL
It is tough to put a lot of focus on a sophomore, but Turanchick is legit. He leads the Golden Eagles with 918 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Oh, and he also is one of the defensive stalwarts at linebacker.
The Golden Eagles are going to try and wear down Concordia if the two meet in Round 2. Turanchick could be that guy to make it happen.
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